Organist wins authorship claim

Former Procol Harum member awarded 20% of

Matthew Fisher has won his claim to joint authorship of Procol Harum’s classic “A Whiter Shade of Pale”.

The organist was brought in by the group to record the organ part to the song, the basic music to which had already been written by vocalist Gary Brooker. Mr Justice Blackburne held his contribution amounted to joint authorship and merited an award of 40% of the music copyright. The song’s mysterious lyrics (“We skipped the light fandango”) were written by band member Keith Reid, who retains the lyrical copyright.

The Bach-inspired song reached number one in Britain in 1967 and has remained popular ever since. Until now it has always been credited to Brooker and Reid. Despite a delay in bringing his claim that the judge called “quite extraordinary”, Fisher will now be entitled to a credit and 20% of royalties. His claim to back royalties was rejected.

Mr Brooker, who said in a statement that the ruling heralded “open season on songwriters”, was given leave to appeal.

Click here for the 5RB case report and full judgment.